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Virginia Child Pornography Laws

In Virginia the production, possession, and distribution of child pornography are three separate felony charges. Sentences upon conviction for possessing pornographic images of children are some of the harshest in the country and can result in jail, fines, a criminal record, and sex offender registration.

Why? Because images of child pornography are not considered protected speech by the Constitution. It is a form of child sexual exploitation. In modern times, instances of child pornography can occur on a computer through the Internet or even on a smartphone (see Sexting for more details).

Most convictions will lead to registration on the Virginia Sex Offender Registry. Once registered, an individual may be on the list for life.

The following table highlights the main provisions of Virginia's child pornography laws. See Cyber Crimes, Sex Crimes, and Crimes Against Children for related information.

Code Sections

Child Pornography: VA Code 18.2-374.1

What is Prohibited

Production: Solicit or entices a minor to be the subject of child porn, produces, prepares to produce, or attempts to make child pornography, knowingly takes part in or participates in the production of child pornography, financing child pornography or attempting to finance child pornography

Possession: Knowingly possessing an item depicting sexual exploitation or abuse of a child;

Distribution: Knowingly distributing an item of child pornography Distribution means reproducing, copying, selling, giving away, and electronically transmitting, etc. child pornography.

First Amendment Protections?

Child pornography is not protected speech covered by the First Amendment.

Definition of a "Child"

A person under 18 years of age.

Mandatory State Sexual Offender Registry if Convicted?

Yes, in some cases. Virginia Sex Offender Registry .


Felony, possible prison sentence depending on the degree of the crime, fines, community service, mandatory sex registration.

Federal Child Pornography Crimes

Child pornography is also a federal crime. Federal laws addressing child pornography are:

  • 18 U.S.C. § 2251: Sexual Exploitation of Children
    (Production of child pornography)
  • 18 U.S.C. § 2251A: Selling and Buying of Children
  • 18 U.S.C. § 2252: Certain activities relating to material involving the sexual exploitation of minors (Possession, distribution and receipt of child pornography)
  • 18 U.S.C. § 2252A: Certain activities relating to material constituting or containing child pornography
  • 18 U.S.C. § 2260: Production of sexually explicit depictions of a minor for importation into the United States

Law Enforcement

Because criminal laws can sometimes get complicated, it may be a good idea to consult an experienced Virginia criminal defense attorney if you have questions about your specific situation.

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